Every Wednesday we have our Man Around Nairobi segment which features men who live, work and play in Nairobi. Our Man Around Nairobi today is Bankelele. Bankelele runs the business blog bankelele.com.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I grew up in Nairobi on Ole Odume Road, across from RFUEA. It was very good, much cleaner and safer. We used to walk from St. Georges School, and get into scrapes, explore construction sites, fish in the river (for black crustaceans). We’d ride bicycles around, buy ice cream at Adams Arcade and carry packed lunches to watch rugby games.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
The diversity of Nairobi. There are always investors opening new restaurants and pubs. There are new newspapers and magazines. It is very vibrant, in a way that you don’t see, unless you travel to other countries or network with tourists. There’s a variety of newspapers and magazines that cover niches. The things you can do at banks like walk up and buy foreign currency, M-Pesa.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
The zoning. I wish there was an appreciation for history and modernity to fuse the past plan of Nairobi with modern reality. For example with the railways, if you go to the industrial area of Nairobi and look at the railway lines on older maps, you can see how the railways goods would be transported to and from factories and go downs by rail to the main train station and link to Mombasa. This is also repeated in other towns where the old railway used to go – up to Nanyuki and up to Kitale.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
It is fun to work, but the commutes are a mess. The transport system should improve to reduce the need for the daily use of personal cars. I have an easy commute, and easily spend two hours a day driving to different meetings. If you have many meetings you should use a taxi or get a driver.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
• There’s a National Park and elephant orphanage in the city
• Make friends with people who will allow you to spend a day with them as they do business in Nairobi
• Bar hop, a different outdoor bar every hour like Shaffie Weru once did. You’ll see very unique & different views of the city
If you would like to interact with Bankelele you can find him on Twitter at @bankelele.